Truth & Destiny Covenant Ministries started as the vision of Pastor Lesley E. Jones to see a Christ-centered, spirit-filled, teaching and equipping church that ministered to ALL people (regardless of their race, ethnicity, culture, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education level, religious experience or spiritual practice, physical or mental ability, past or present condition) with unconditional, radically-inclusive love. Her ultimate hope was to blend the Gospel of Jesus Christ with modern day social justice ministry while teaching and preaching a message of liberation, reconciliation, and sanctification.
A dozen or so friends were invited to an evening meal where the foundation was laid for what would become Truth & Destiny Covenant Ministries becoming known as Truth & Destiny Covenant Ministries Fellowship United Church of Christ in 2011. The dinner conversation began with “what is a church”, comments were slow in coming and commitments were even slower, eventually the group warmed up and the conversation flowed with ideas such as, “teach the Word”, “be a family place”, “good music”, and “good fellowships”.
After several months of prayer and Bible studies, the first worship service was held on Sunday, January 12, 2003. The service was held in donated space that doubled as a yoga studio at the Matri Center on Hamilton Avenue in the Northside neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. More than a dozen people including current members: Deacon Diane Edwards, Sister Shelia “D” Davis, Sister Marilyn Matthews attended this first service.
In the first year, Truth & Destiny named its first Board of Directors (Rosa Bentley, Jakima Greathouse, Ricci Michel) and was incorporated as an Ohio non-profit. The following year, 2004, Pastor Lesley was formally charged and installed, as Pastor by Rev. Darlene Franklin in a service held at the Fourpoints Sheraton – Kenwood in Cincinnati, Ohio.
During the first year the church grew to 30 members often as many as 50 attended worship services in the space shared with a yoga group creating the “battle of chairs and mats”. Thus the move to 1730 Blue Rock Avenue, “the Bar”, it was an old bar turned hair salon, then a church on one of the most drug infested corner’s in the City. The church was instrumental in decreasing the drug activity and cleaning up the neighborhood and starting the “Back to School Block Party”.
Many new programs and activities began on Blue Rock, including participating in the “Great American Clean-Up”, the Usher Board, Youth Ministry, and Praise & Worship Teams, the Witler Street Block Party, and the 45223 Block Watch. With worship leader and many others beginning their journeys to becoming licensed ministers and ordained deacons membership grew to 50.
Experiencing more growth and with a vision to own a building the church moved on New Year’s Eve 2005 to our present location, 4663 Kirby Road.
For the congregation and Senior Pastor, 2006, was year of “action”. Pastor Lesley left full-time employment to devote more time to the church and social justice ministry. Taking a lead role in the “Campaign to Restore Fairness”, she and several members canvassed Cincinnati neighborhoods talking with citizens about “repealing”, Article 12, Cincinnati's anti-gay law. Truth & Destiny became a gathering site for campaign workers and volunteers. The commitment to social justice continued with participation in marches, meetings and letter writing campaigns in support of our members and others employed in the hospitality and grocery industry's right to “unionize”, be paid fair wages, and receive health benefits. We expanded our reach into the community, by joining CAIN (Churches Active in Northside) to help families and individuals in need of food, clothing, shelter, and crisis assistance; became a sponsoring church of a monthly dinner for anyone who needs a hot, nutritious meal; hosted after school tutoring for K-12 students; and hosted the First Annual Family & Friends Picnic to encourage ''healthy” relationships and reconciliation.
From the beginning, we made children and youth ministry a top priority which led to the establishment of the Youth Council in 2007 with a special prayer and laying of hands by the Pastor for its officers.
Now it was time for “expansion” three ministers were licensed and four deacons were ordained during TDCM's 5th Year Anniversary celebration officiated by Bishop Yvette Flunder.
At the 2008 Annual Convocation of the Fellowship, Bishop Yvette Flunder assisted by Bishop Carlton Pearson, Bishop Wyatt Greenlee and supported by clergy representing the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), Pastor Lesley was ordained a Fellowship “pastor” and Truth & Destiny was welcomed as a Fellowship church.
NOTE: The Fellowship is an association of more than 75 clergy and churches that represent various faith traditions and denominations, who preach, teach and practice “radical inclusion”. Founded by Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco, CA, the Fellowship is also home to many UCC congregations.
In October 2008, Truth & Destiny participated in its first “Coping Sunday” service to raise awareness about mental illness. In 2012, Pastor Lesley assumed the reigns of leadership for this event co-sponsored by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) and NAMI-Urban Greater Cincinnati Chapter.
In spring 2009, Pastor Lesley after prayerful consideration and in consultation with the Truth & Destiny Leadership Team, began exploring affiliation with the United Church of Christ. She was introduced by friend and ministry colleague, Rev. Dan Weyand-Geise to Rev. Ruth Brandon, Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky, Association Minister who invited her to share the story of Truth & Destiny with the SONKA Church Relations Team which led to: Rev. Jim Korpik becoming the committee's liaison to TDCM, and our study of the UCC Manual on Church with focused conversation on “covenant”, and to Washington UCC serving as our sponsoring church.
Our leaders and members shared ministry opportunities with neighboring First UCC, attended the 2009 Fall Annual Meeting of SONKA and welcomed several UCC clergy and members who visited during the 7th Year Anniversary Celebration week in April 2010. Truth & Destiny requested “acceptance” to the United Church of Christ at the September 2010 meeting of the Church Relations Team of SONKA.
November 2010, Truth & Destiny again made history and was admitted into the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the United Church of Christ.
August 1, 2009 – Truth & Destiny was blessed with a wonderful “first lady” after Pastor Lesley & Pastor Noni were married in San Francisco, CA in a ceremony officiated by Bishop Yvette Flunder.
August 18, 2010 – Bishop Flunder elevated Pastor Lesley to Sr. Pastor and assisted in the installation of Pastor Noni as Associate Pastor, and both Pastor Melody Wolder and Pastor Terry Hocker as Assistant Pastors.
June 24 - July 6, 2011, we supported our first mission trip to Rubate, Kenya. Pastor Lesley along with two youth brothers Christopher Simmons (17) and Alex “AJ” Tillman (15) traveled with a delegation from SONKA to Rubate Teachers College where they ministered, dialogued with students, shared cultural traditions, visited with villagers and broke ground for the morgue at the Rubate Clinic.
April 2012, friends Joel Ngatari and Evelyn from Rubate, Kenya visited Truth & Destiny where we raised an offering of $500 to support the building of water well at the college.
June 10, 2012 – Truth & Destiny held a “Mortgage Burning” service to celebrate the pay off of the building at 4663 Kirby Road.
2013 – Marked 10 Years of ministry and service for Truth & Destiny and God did a BIG THING: moved us from a 1,500 square foot, one room building to a 3,500+ square foot, three building campus. We partnered with the UCC's Church Build & Loan Fund to purchase our current campus.
We have come this far by faith, is more than a song for Truth & Destiny, but a testimony, today Truth & Destiny is continually experiencing growth (spiritually, theologically and numerically).
In Memorial to Deacon Diane Edwards
"Gone But Never Forgotten"
Thank you for 17 years of service and friendship!